There’s a new gym and rec center in town: The Bedford Union Armory in Crown Heights has been transformed into the new Major R. Owens Health and Wellness Community Center. It’s located at 1561 Bedford Ave., and it offers a variety of amenities and youth sports programs for the community.
The 60,000-square-foot retrofitted drill shed will serve as a neighborhood recreation center offering wellness programs and activities for adults, kids, and families to utilize and enjoy, including a 25-meter, six-lane competitive swimming pool, basketball courts, and a multi-purpose court to accommodate various sports and community programming, according to the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the organization that oversaw the building of the project along with city officials and other stakeholders.
“Investing in our people and communities, especially in ones that have often been overlooked, is how we build a recovery for all of us,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The Major R. Owens Health and Wellness Community Center will provide New Yorkers a place to thrive and grow for generations to come.”
Major R. Owens Health and Wellness Community Center Memberships
The opening comes after several years of talks and negotiations between the city, developers, and the community. Opponents of the project were concerned about the accessibility and affordability of the center, but a deal was struck with everyone involved, including development company, BFC Partners, to offer locals a discounted rate for memberships and services.
General membership is $30 a month, but many Community Board 9 residents, as well as qualifying seniors and low-income adults, will pay $10 per month. Youth memberships will start as low as $8 per month.
“There is a critical need for enriching programs that provide positive outlets of physical and mental creative energy, training and skills for a 21st-century economy, and the promotion of overall wellness,” said Fred Baptiste, chair of Community Board 9. “The board looks forward to working with the various vendors and organizations in servicing the residents of the district and Central Brooklyn.”
Community Resources at Major R. Owens Community Center
The center also includes office space for nonprofit organizations that serve the community. Services provided by these organizations include science and technology classes for underserved youth, LGBT support services, Caribbean arts and culture programming, and anti-violence counseling.
As part of the larger Major Owens Center project, there will also be 415 units of housing, 60 percent of which will be affordable housing for low-income New Yorkers, as well as a 25,000-square-foot health center to be run by Brooklyn Plaza Medical Center expected to be completed by 2023.
The center was named after former U.S. House of Representative, Major Robert Odell Owens, who, in 2008, envisioned a future for the armory as a full-time community center for Crown Heights residents.
“The Major R. Owens Health & Wellness Center is rooted in the community and is for the community,” said NYCEDC President and CEO Rachel Loeb. “NYCEDC and our partners worked hard to deliver a recreational center that captured former Congressman Major Owens’ vision, a place where people of all ages, all walks of life and from different communities could come together and have access to critical services and programming that open doors to opportunity. Now, children, families and seniors can benefit from this center for years to come and be inspired when they walk inside.”
Main photo: The ribbon cutting at the grand opening of the Major R. Owens Health and Wellness Community Center
Courtesy New York City Economic Development Corporation